Psionic (EU2012)

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Psionic Squad
Psionic
A Psionic is a late game 'extra' class that appears once you tested your soldiers for psionic ability. Higher Will makes the more likely to have the gift. They can use their mental powers on the battlefield to panic/control enemy units or to create physical attacks. Psionic soldiers get access to their regular class abilities in addition to their psychic powers, allowing for some interesting combinations. A Psionic soldier will have a purple effect applied to their class identifier.

The Psi Lab is required to rest soldiers for psionic powers, and will only be available after conducting a Sectoid Commander autopsy, or interrogating a Psionic alien, if the Second Wave's More Than Human option is activated.

On the Enemy Within DLC MEC Troopers can't become Psionic soldiers. If the Second Wave's option Mind Hates Matter is enabled, it is not possible also to test gene modded soldiers.

Abilities

Rank Ability
Psionic
PSIONIC MINDFRAY.png
Mindfray
Causes the target to lose grip on reality, inflicting penalties to Aim(-25), Will(-25), and Movement, and doing 5 base Damage. Robotic units are immune. Lasts 2 turns. 1 turn cooldown.
Specialist
PSIONIC PSIINSPIRATION.png
Psi Inspiration
Removes Mindfray and panic from all allies within 3 tiles, and strengthen their Will by +30 for 2 turns. 4 turn cooldown.
PSIONIC PANIC.png
Psi Panic
Cause target to panic on its following turn, if the target's Will is overcome. Robotic enemies are immune. 2 turn cooldown.
Operative
PSIONIC TELEKINETICFIELD.png
Telekinetic Field
Create an immobile telekinetic field that lasts through the enemy turn. The field distorts and deflects incoming attacks, granting +40 Defence.
PSIONIC MINDCONTROL.png
Mind Control
Very difficult psi technique that, if successful, grants control of the target for 3 turns. Robotic enemies are immune. 5 turn cooldown.
The Volunteer
PSIONIC RIFT.png
Rift
Devastate an area with a storm of psi energy. The rift does more damage against targets with low Will, and reduced damage against targets with high Will. 4 turn cooldown.

Tips & Trix

  • Targeting
    • Psionics can only be used on an alien that can be seen by the psionic unit.
    • Generally the success probability is based on Will and ignores factors like cover and range.
  • Mindfray
    • Will penalty from Mindfray stacks with multiple application. Other effects does not stack.
  • Psi Panic
    • Contrary to the description, Psi Panic will cause the victim to panic immediately and then skip its next turn. This will often cause it to fire on you in your turn if it can see you.
  • Telekinetic Field
    • Telekinetic Field will be centered on the psi user that created it, so it should be given to soldiers that will be near the front line.
    • Telekinetic Field doesn't give defense to enemy units unlike smoke grenades.
  • Mind Control
    • A Mind Controlled unit cannot act on the turn it is controlled.
    • Mind Control will end at the beginning of your turn, usually giving you an opportunity to attack the previously Mind Controlled unit before it attacks or moves.
    • If you Mind Control a psionic alien, you will have access to making the alien use some (not all) of its psionic capabilities, including abilities that the XCOM psi operative does not possess. For example if you mind control an Ethereal, you can use its Rift ability, which normally is only available to the Volunteer.
    • Mind Control has no effect or limitation on the psi operative performing it. They can move and attack with weapons freely, that does not interrupt or end the Mind Control.
    • An alien under the effects of Mind Control is treated as one of your soldiers for pretty much all intents and purposes. You cannot target the unit with direct fire weapons. Surprisingly, your soldiers will take the Will penalty if he dies, as if a friendly unit had died.
    • Killing an MCed alien (such as with rockets or grenades) does not give Experience Points (XPs), however it does count to that soldier's list of kills.
    • Therefore you may want to damage the alien while it is MC'd (for example by making it fight other aliens, or dropping a grenade on itself as well as aliens), and then easily perform the kill when it is back under its own control.
    • However if it does die while being MC'd, the alien's equipment does not self-destruct (unless it's killed with explosives), allowing you to recover its equipment (usually a weapon and maybe a grenade) at the end of the mission, similar to if you had stunned it with an Arc Thrower.
      • (EW: An MCed Mechtoid does not drop anything).
    • Surprisingly, a psionic alien unit that is performing a successful Mind Control cannot itself be Mind Controlled until its Mind Control has ended. The same applies to XCOM psi operatives during a successful Mind Control.
  • Psi Inspiration
    • Psi Inspiration also affects the psi unit who uses it (this isn't clear in the description). This makes the ability very powerful for increasing the success rate of other abilities such as Mind Control, as well as improving defense when tackling psionic aliens.
    • Psi Inspiration does not stack with itself.
    • Psi Inspiration also removes the Fallen Comrade Will debuff. This is especially useful when using Mind Control.
    • Psi Inspiration does not stack with the new Enemy Within DLC OTS perk Lead By Example. Whichever provides the most Will will be chosen. Squad Leader with 140 Will will override any soldier boosted by Psi Inspiration if less, otherwise will be given the Inspired bonus. Any soldier within range of Psi Inspiration will still receive bonus but it is not "tacked" on to Lead By Example, for clarification purposes.
    • However, it is extremely important to have your highest Will soldier as Squad Leader because if his Will is boosted, every nearby soldier regardless if they were Inspired or not, will receive the boosted Will. (Great way to get all nearby soldiers to nearly 200 Will! High Will Psi soldier with Psi Armor, Mind Shield, + Will medals, Psi Inspired and Squad Leader will turn squads into Ethereal Death Squads.)
    • The Support's Combat Drugs includes a Will bonus, but this does not affect any Psi Abilites (ie: will not stack with Inspiration, or enhance MC/Panic/Mindfray probability).
  • Rift
    • Only one psi unit can become The Volunteer, and this occurs when they use the alien device in the Gollop Chamber. This unit gains the Rift ability, which is otherwise only possessed by Ethereals.
    • The Rift ability is a wide area-effect psi attack that can inflict massive damage, but has a long down-time.
    • Rift is the only Psi attack used by XCOM's soldiers that can attack Robotic units, and, if the Volunteer is a Heavy, it does benefit from the HEAT ammo ability.
      • Enemy Within: Mindfray benefits from HEAT ammo if used against Mechtoids.


Testing for Psionics

After the Psi Lab is built it is possible to test up to three soldiers at a time to discover their Psionic potential. Testing takes 10 days for each soldier and the result is dependent upon the soldier's Will, rank and number of already existing Psionic soldiers. For the actual formula, see Psi Chance.

Tactical Advice

Psionics are clearly an asset to any class. Shotgun Assaults can use psionics to engage at medium range when it's not possible for them to Run & Gun for a close range shot. Snipers can use psionics as a weapon after moving. Heavies can use psionics as a complement to their moderate aim at high levels. Supports in a way gain the least from psionics, but their Deep Pockets ability allows them to carry a Mind Shield without hampering their other functions greatly. This grants them psi defense and a higher offensive ability hit chance.

Abilities

Mind Fray

All psionic soldiers have this as their first ability. The main advantage of Mind Fray over simply shooting a target is that (like all psi abilities) it ignores Defense and cover and targets the alien's Will, which unless it is a psionic enemy, Chryssalid or Berserker is often a much easier target. While the damage is low compared to end-game weapons, it is fixed and guaranteed if the attack hits, which makes it a nice way of killing an alien with 5 HP or less left.

Mind Fray's Will reduction will make further psionic attacks easier, and is the easiest psionic attack to land. This means you can use it to soften up an alien for a Mind Control or Panic, or for a further Mind Fray by a lower ranked soldier. This is particularly useful when going for the Xavier achievement.


Psi Inspiration vs Psi Panic

Psi Panic causes the unit to panic immediately upon use and then skip the next turn. The main problem with this skill is that often the unit's panic action will be to take a shot at you, which isn't a massive improvement on what it would have done had you not panicked it. The unit will sometimes do something else like hunker down or run away. In any case, a successful psi panic prevents the use of any special abilities like grenades and will prevent the unit from moving to flank.

Unlike Mind Fray, Psi Panic will not decloak a soldier using the Ghost Armor's Ghost ability. The panicked alien will not attack the hidden psi user, but may attack other soldiers that it can immediately see. When used carefully, this can be a good way to disable key enemies for a turn. Unfortunately, aliens don't suffer from regular panic like you do, so you can't start a panic chain among the enemy by getting them to shoot each other.

Psi Inspiration gives a +30 boost to Will for 2 turns and removes Mind Fray and Panic. The most important thing this ability does that isn't mentioned is remove the Fallen Comrade Will debuff. This is very useful when using Mind Control, because mind controlled aliens dying will cause this debuff and you'll want to get rid of it so it doesn't hamper your morale and psi abilities for the rest of the mission. The Will bonus will buff your soldiers' offensive psi ability hit chance and defense against enemy psi attacks, making it a useful ability to use before breaching a room. Psi Inspiration can be used to level up to the next psi level quickly, because it can be used on spare turns when not in combat. While Psi Inspiration is an area effect ability, it only reaches two tiles, so can be a pain to get many other soldiers without forming your squad into grenade bait formation.


Telekinetic Field vs Mind Control

Mind Control is easily the most powerful ability in the game in most encounters. While it's difficult-to-impossible to pull off against psionic enemies, they usually have non-psionic guards (Muton Elites in particular) who can be controlled. The only major enemies it doesn't help against are Cyberdiscs and Sectopods, though mind controlled aliens from a previous group will make for good cannon fodder for them. Mind Control is one of the hardest skills to pull of, and requires high Will to succeed. If your soldier has reasonably high Will, then this is the skill to take.

Like Panic, Mind Control also does not decloak a soldier using the Ghost ability. This way only the mind controlled alien will be at risk of attacks from its allies. Additionally, MCing an alien in an inactive squad (i.e.: while in Ghost Mode) will not activate the remainder of the squad (or any others nearby) until your next action is taken. With Squad Sight, Snipers can wipe out an entire alien squad at once.

An alien or human who is psi-linked is not a valid target for mind control. A psi-linked unit is one who is using or is the target of Mind Merge or Mind Control. This means if an alien MCs a soldier, you cannot attempt to MC the soldier back, or attempt to MC the alien to break the link. Likewise, if you MC an Ethereal's Muton Elite guard, the Ethereal will not be able to MC that soldier or the guard.

You can keep track of how many turns are left of a controlled alien by the ability tile on the controlling soldier: if it reads T-3, then the alien will be released at the start of the next Alien Action. Some aliens will immediately fire if your soldiers are in range, and be especially wary of any with grenades. However, you can 'force' their action-- or inaction: when the tile reads T-3, have the soon-to-be-free alien Hunker Down, and it will stay in that mode when released. As flanking ignores Hunker Down, and your soldier only needs to be a little away to be invisible to it, this is a safe way to either MC it again, or finish it off.

When MCing an alien, you have access to all their abilities. If they are a grenade-wielding alien, making them use it (such as on other aliens or themselves) does take up their use for it, so they cannot grenade you afterwards if you elect to keep the alive a bit longer. You may not face against many Sectoids by the time you get MC (except for EW Mechtoid supporters), but they make decent scouts and canon fodder. Both varieties of Floaters make great flying scouts (land them on their last turn if you want to kill them afterwards), though the touchy nature of their Launch ability may restrict it's use for flanking/long-range moves. The Muton breeds and their high HP are good for taking up the other alien's attention: if you get a few of them under your control, and at least one a green-armored variety, Blood Call may be worth a use. Chryssalids are extremely difficult to MC, often requiring to Mind Fray them first to soften their will-- cutting their movement dramatically, reducing the payoff of the effort to MC them. The Mechtoid, having a living pilot, is an excellent MC target: their Sectoid/Commander supporters cannot do much damage to them with just Plasma Pistols, Psi-Linking to them keeps them from getting shields, Plasma Barrage acts like a Heavy's Bullet Swarm, and as a hardened mechanical out-of-cover unit, they can easily soak up the damage from any other nearby aliens. And the Sectoid Commanders and Ethereals are, naturally, very difficult to MC. As the Commander will be Psi-Linked, you cannot use it's Greater Mind Merge, and the Ethereal will often be the last alien you see (and only in a UFO Assault), reducing the point of attempting to MC them-- though it is fun to make them Rift themselves and any other remaining aliens.

Telekinetic Field (TK) is essentially a psionic smoke grenade that is reusable after a 4 turn cooldown. It is always centered on the soldier creating it, rather than being placeable like a smoke grenade, but it makes up for this by being much larger. It also gives +40 defence like a dense smoke grenade. The main use for this ability is to protect your squad from the attacks of a Sectopod or Cyberdisc if you have to finish your turn under its guns. Telekinetic Field will not decloak a soldier using the Ghost ability. You may want to take this if your psionic has low Will.

If you decide to have 4 troopers with TK field, and have them cast in turn, that means you can have a 'continuous' TK field for as long as you desire. Add Mindfrays, advanced armors' Defense bonus and a smoke grenade if things look dicey, and this can make you almost immune to hits in a straight-up firefight. Focusing this much on TK field comes at the cost of Mind Control though, and limits how far apart you can deploy your squad while benefiting from it.

Telekinetic Field can be a good replacement for smoke grenades if you take Combat Drugs on your Supports, since this makes their smoke grenades no longer give a Defense bonus.

Chances of Psi attacks

Chance to land Mindfray/Psi panic is 50 + (your will) - (target's will) %.
Chance to land Mind control is 30% lower, 20 + (your will) - (target's will) %.
Psi armor and Mind shield gives bonus 20% and 30% (respectively) chance to all psi attacks, on top of will bonus.
On classic and Impossible difficulty, there is -10% and -20% (respectively) penalty to all psi attacks.

  • Will boost from Combat drugs does not apply on psi attack.
  • Will bonus from medals does not apply on psi attack.
  • If you have 205 will with Psi armor and Mind shield, then you can MC an Ethereal with 100% chance on impossible difficulty.

Equipment

The requirements of your primary class will probably dominate your equipment choice. The only items of particular note for psionic soldiers are the Mind Shield and Psi Armor. The Mind Shield's description portrays it as a defensive item against hostile psionics, but the Will bonus it gives is equally useful for boosting your own psi ability hit rate. Psi Armor is an option for psionics that gives a Will bonus and all the effects that entails, but it's by no means automatic that Psi Armor is the best choice; Ghost and Titan have better defence and Ghost and Archangel have better mobility.

When deciding on whether to use the Mind Shield or Psi Armor, look at the soldier's Will level and consider the sort of psi skills that your soldier will be using the most. A soldier mainly concentrating on buff skills for example will not need to use either, as these skills are not dependent on their Will level. A soldier specialising in Mind Control may want to take one or even both to get Will close to or beyond 100. Most combat oriented builds can get away without either and can use Mind Fray and Psi Panic to a good degree of success against most common enemies except the Berserkers and Ethereals.

Again: note that Combat Drugs' (Support's skill) or Combat Stims' (item) boosts to Will do not add to Psi techniques.

Care and Feeding of Psionics

You want to avoid your potential (or already identified) psi troopers being Critically Wounded, since this gives a permanent reduction to Will.

Once you've obtained the Iron Will OTS upgrade, you may want to replace your current crop of high ranking soldiers with new ones, since these new soldiers will end up with significantly higher will scores than soldiers that gained their ranks without Iron Will. Even if your original soldiers test positive, the higher will of your new ones will make them more powerful psionics.

To maximise the will of your soldiers, save before the final shot of each mission (usually either a Sectoid Commander, an Ethereal, or the last action of a Council Mission). This way, when you get back to base, if they didn't get the Will upgrade you'd like, you can reload and try again. If playing with the Second Wave Hidden Potential option this can also be done to maximize other stats.

Whether a soldier will be gifted or not is decided when they are placed in the Psi-Lab, so with saving and loading you can make any soldier a guaranteed psionic by placing them in the lab, saving, fast forwarding 10 days (skipping missions) and seeing what the result is. If it's positive, reload and play normally, if negative, reload, pull them out and back in to the lab, save again and repeat. Again, a positive or negative result is dependent on when that soldier is entered, so removing the soldier in slot 2 will not change the result of the soldiers already in slot 3 or 1.

If playing on Iron Man (or are just unwilling to abuse saving and loading in this way) then after testing your current ranked soldiers, get the New Guy upgrade and recruit and test new squaddies of the class you want with high starting will as often as possible to identify psionics. If you are playing with the Second Wave option Not Created Equal, then you will also want to pay attention to aim and move as well. Psi Snipers in particular will want to prioritize aim. While Will is a factor (higher ranked soldiers will have a better chance of testing positive), it is more economical to test masses of squaddies than to promote soldiers to higher ranks before testing and then discarding that effort if they test negative.

If you are playing with the Second Wave More Than Human keep in mind that you'll most likely only have 1 or 2 Psionics available at all times during the game. Once your single Psionic is dead you'll have to find and train a new one so you may want to think first before sending him/her on a risky move.

Enemy Within DLC

While there's no direct change to Psionics, several additions from EW indirectly help your Psi Squad to be downright lethal:

  • Tactical Rigging means one more item slot, such as for the Mind Shield (generic +30 Will), or Chitin Plating or a Respirator to make up in the deficiencies of Psi Armor.
  • The two Gene Mods to your soldier's brain means either a significant defense boost, or an automatic counter-attack.
  • The Second Heart mod keeps you soldier alive from one 'lethal' hit a mission, and the resulting Critically Wounded status won't mean for a permanent Will reduction, either.
  • The Bone Marrow mod further helps keep your Psionic soldiers alive and fighting.
  • "Lead By Example" from the OTS means your Psi Squad Leader will be protecting and boosting the whole squad-- especially in the Temple Ship, where he'll be required to wear the Psi Armor.
  • If the Mind Hates Matter Second Wave option is chosen Psionic soldiers can't have Gene Mods, and already genetically modified soldiers can't be tested in the Psi Lab.
  • The alien AI programming has been slightly modified in reaction to Mind Controlled aliens: in EU, as MCed aliens would usually be flanked, in the open, or closest nearby, they would be targeted first by hostile aliens. In an alien squad of 3, that usually means only 1 of them would strike at your troops. In Enemy Within, this is no longer the case: aliens will prioritize attacking soldiers directly. This is most evident in MCing an Ethereal's Muton Elite guard, in which instead of distracting the Ethereal for a turn by it killing the Muton with a Psi Lance, the Ethereal's first action will almost always be to attempt to MC any nearby XCOM soldiers.

Leveling

As Psionics is a subclass, a newbie psionic can be a Rookie or a Colonel. Psionic leveling is rather quick, and dependent on successful Psionic actions. Basically, just make a lot of successful Mindfrays. And once you get the next level (Inspire or Panic), use that one a lot, too (if with Inspire, level faster by Inspiring multiple other soldiers in the same turn.

As for starting a newbie Psionic as a Rookie/Squaddie or a Colonel: while hits made with Mindfray and Panic (and supporting with Inspire) level Psionic abilities, kills made with Mindfray still count as EXP for leveling Soldier Rank, and an additional 'weapon' technique for a new recruit (whom may have low aim) that always hits does wonders for faster leveling (kills made with an MCed alien, or an MCed alien getting killed, do not grant EXP). Meanwhile, an experienced soldier's higher Will means that a Psionic attack is less likely to fail. If you have a backlog of high-stat recruits for Psi Testing, you may consider sending the choice soldiers into battle in the meanwhile, so at least they level some amount, reducing the odds of failed Mindfrays--- or remove all worry by giving them Psi Equipment: note that any soldier can equip Mind Shields, but only those that have already tested positive for Psi Potential can equip the Psi Armor.

Council Missions, which are almost always only Thin Men, are excellent missions to train new Psi soldiers on: on all but Impossible difficulty, Mindfraying a Thin Man is a 1-hit kill.

See Also

EU2012 Badge XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012): XCOM Units
Soldiers:CLASS ASSAULT.png AssaultCLASS HEAVY.png HeavyCLASS SNIPER.png SniperCLASS SUPPORT.png SupportCLASS PSIONIC.png PsionicCLASS MECH.png MEC Trooper (EW DLC)
S.H.I.Vs:S.H.I.V.Alloy S.H.I.V.Hover S.H.I.V.
Attributes:ClassesClass BuildsAbilitiesStatsNicknamesGene Mods (EW DLC)Medals (EW DLC)
Loadout:WeaponsArmorEquipmentMEC Suit (EW DLC)
Barracks:Officer Training SchoolPsi LabMemorialGenetics Lab (EW DLC)Cybernetics Lab (EW DLC)
Other: VolunteerHeroesZhang (Slingshot DLC)Annette (EW DLC)Covert Operative (EW DLC)Training Roulette (EW DLC)